Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Floating Helium Stick Game 

Suggested Learning Outcomes for the Floating Helium Stick Activity

  • Team work and communication
  • Setting Goals
  • Organisation
  • Trouble shooting and problem solving

Required Resources:

1 x 1 meter PVC pipe per team or a hula hoop for each team

Space Required:

A Small Indoor or Outdoor space.

Group Size: Ideally 8 per team, but can be up to 12 per team

Length of Activity

Total Time: 20-25 minutes

  • 5 minutes to brief and set up
  • 10 – 15 minutes for challenge
  • 5 minutes to review and debrief

In the Floating Helium Stick Activity, you start by dividing the group into teams of 8 people per team, unless of course they are already in teams. Each team will be given a Floating Helium Stick at the start of the activity. The teams must now try to lower the Stick until it touches the ground, however one of the rules is that the team are only allowed to make use of their index fingers.  The other important rule is that all the members of the group must keep their index fingers in contact with the Floating Helium Stick until the exercise is complete. This may seem to be an easy task to perform, but it can become very frustrating and humorous to all those participating.  

Running the Floating Helium Stick Activity

  • Split the group into two and line them up in two rows facing each other.
  • Introduce the Floating Helium Stick to the group.
  • Ask participants to hold their arms out in front of them and point their index fingers forwards.
  • Lay the stick down on their fingers.
  • Get the group to adjust their finger heights until the cane is horizontal and everyone’s index fingers are in contact.
  • Explain that the challenge is to lower the cane to the ground, while index fingers remain in contact.

Rules for the Floating Helium Stick Activity

  • All participants must keep their index fingers on the Floating Helium Stick throughout the exercise.
  • No Pinching or grabbing is allowed – the Floating Helium Stick is only allowed to lie on top of the index fingers.
  • Should anyone loose contact with the Floating Helium Stick, the exercise needs to start over again.
  • From a safety perspective, all members of a team must be cautious when handling the Floating Helium Stick, particularly at the end.

Activity Guidance and Notes

The combined force of the whole teams fingers on the Cane, appears to be more than the weight of the Floating Helium Stick  itself. The result being; the harder the teams attempt to move the Cane towards the ground, the more it appears to move upwards.  

To make the exercise more difficult, initiate a no talking rule, or put a blindfold on one or more of the participants.

The strategy is to recognise what the problem is, as there appears to be a fixed solution. If the question is presented to the group, they will all agree that the solution to the problem is to get the Cane onto the ground. However, this is a very common error, as this is the objective and not the problem. They themselves are the problem, preventing themselves from reaching the goal.

There have been tests done, which prove that as soon as the teams repeat the challenge, they are successful. This strengthens the fact that by doing the exercise over, it proves teams have learnt something. Otherwise, if after the second attempt the teams are still not able to resolve the problem, (this could be due to lack of proper communication or leadership problems) it is up to the facilitator to actively take part in the challenge. Teams should then be able to come up with a solution.  The exercise is a clear illustration of sound communication and leadership skills.

Debriefing and Review of the Floating Helium Stick Activity

Here are some questions you can use to ask the teams, which will help them process their experience of the activity Floating Helium Stick:

  • Was there a proper plan in place before the challenged started?
  • Was it necessary to change your plan at any stage during the challenge? What was the reason for so doing?
  • Did you have a goal for the exercise? What hindered you from attaining your goal?
  • Did you understand why the Cane rose up instead of going down to the floor?
  • When you look back on the exercise, is there something you would change?
  • Was the leadership of your group effective during the challenge?
  • Did your teams convey the information effectively?
  • What is your definition of success? How is success obtained?
  • As you consider the whole challenge, is there something you would omit?

Floating Helium Stick Activity Team Building

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Build Trust, Communication, Collaboration, Having Fun, Leadership, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 16 - 25 minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Children, Youth, Adults